Nestled between verdant mountains of Kang Koi district in Saraburi province, Uncle Chris Organic Farm (aka “Rai Loong Chris Organic Farm” and “Onkel Chris Bauern-Hof”) paints a utopian picture of rural living. There’s greenery as far as the eye can see, encompassing rice paddies, fruit tree orchards, and old-growth trees. Babbling streams house crabs and fish, while butterflies weave among the well tended gardens and unkempt shrubbery, adding to the picturesque scene.
This tranquil plot of land wasn’t always this way, however. “When my father [Chris] acquired this land decades ago, the mountains were bare, thanks to slash and burn and other unsustainable agricultural practices. My father rehabilitated the land, bringing it back to its natural condition with slow and deliberate natural methods over 35 years,” said Claire Kobelt, Uncle Chris’s daughter. Such means included the planting of banana, bamboo and mango trees, which help add moisture back into the soil, and the building of an irrigation system with small dams across streams that help retain water and silt which in term seeps into the ground, fostering growth of the forest cover.
In 2015, Uncle Chris Organic Farm opened to the public for the first time, with the aim of getting urban families back to nature for the sake of their health and well-being.
The farm offers several day-long educational and fun activities – these include learning how to plant and grow organic rice, from transplanting rice seedlings in the paddies to harvesting the rice; and a day of outdoor fun for children. The latter involves themed story time (with insect mascots played by local students), songs, insect catching, arts and crafts, and horseback riding. Children are also welcome to play in the sand pit, swing from the trees, explore the herb and vegetable gardens, and simply run around amidst natural surroundings.
For day trips, lunch is provided, comprising home-grown organic white and black rice and organic vegetables in the Thai-style dishes. There is also a small farm stand selling rice, fresh herbs such as lemongrass and chili, and fresh seasonal produce.
This winter season, Uncle Chris Organic Farm introduces camping for those who would like to get back to nature for the night. Tents are spacious, with mattresses, pillows, blankets, an electric fan and an electrical outlet; each tent can accommodate up to two adults and two small children. At night, a bonfire is lit for warmth but more importantly, it caters to kids who want to roast corn or toast marshmallows. A communal bathroom offers three shower rooms and “proper” (i.e., flushable, non-squatting) toilets.
The farm is open by appointment only or on special activity days, where spots tend to fill up quickly. Most activities are conducted in Thai but English sessions may be arranged for private groups. Please contact Khun Claire at 081-374-7320 or [email protected] for more information. Also, check out the farm’s Facebook page.
The location of the Uncle Chris Organic Farm is at Thamaprang, Kang Koi, Saraburi (GPS coordinates: 14°26’08.7″N 101°03’04.7″E). Signs leading to the farm read: “Onkel Chris Bauern-Hof”.